KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs today will hold their first full-squad practice of the offseason. Here are some things to watch between now and June 18, when their minicamp wraps up:
• Who’s starting on the offensive line? The Chiefs have a lot of possible combinations as they attempt to rebuild their line, but whatever they do, they’re likely to have a lot of starters who didn’t play for them last season. The only 2014 starter certain to be a fixture in their lineup this year is left tackle Eric Fisher. Otherwise, the Chiefs could open with a line that includes Ben Grubbs at left guard, Eric Kush at center, Paul Fanaika at right guard and Donald Stephenson at right tackle. Grubbs was acquired in a trade with New Orleans, Fanaika was signed as a free agent from Arizona and while Kush and Stephenson were with the Chiefs last season, they didn’t start. But the competition for starting jobs won’t end in offseason practice. Indeed, it won’t begin in earnest until training camp. Rookie Mitch Morse and veterans Jeff Allen and Zach Fulton could win starting jobs by the time the regular season begins.
• Jeremy Maclin and then what at wide receiver? Maclin, a free-agent acquisition, is unquestionably the No. 1 receiver, but after that the Chiefs have some decisions to make. They like Albert Wilson, who came on toward the end of last season as an undrafted rookie, and he will likely be first in line to claim the other starting spot. There’s a long list of candidates looking for playing time, including third-round draft pick Chris Conley of Georgia. The Chiefs have to get more from their receivers than they did last year and Maclin is only part of the solution.
• Secondary issues. Three players who otherwise might be getting a lot of work in the defensive backfield won’t be participating. Safety Eric Berry is getting treatment for lymphoma near his home in Atlanta. Two rookie cornerbacks, first-round draft pick Marcus Peters and third-rounder Steven Nelson, are unable to attend because classes at their respective colleges are still in session. At safety, Tyvon Branch will get his first look on a Chiefs practice field. He was their main defensive addition in free agency. At cornerback, Sean Smith, Jamell Fleming and Phillip Gaines will get a lot of work.
• Do the Chiefs have a third tight end? The Chiefs were at their best offensively during the first half of last season when they utilized their three tight end formations. They weren’t as effective after losing backup Demetrius Harris because of a broken foot. Harris should be back, as well as Travis Kelce, whose NFL debut season was a big one. But the Chiefs released veteran Anthony Fasano and don’t appear to have another tight end capable of helping. They drafted James O’Shaughnessy in the fifth round, but he looks like a developmental prospect.
• How are the players coming off injury? Allen, Harris, defensive linemen Mike DeVito and Mike Catapano, linebacker Derrick Johnson and defensive back Sanders Commings are among the players who ended last season on injured reserve. The Chiefs could use the help from all of them this year, even if in just a limited capacity. The Chiefs are generally cautious during offseason practice with players coming off injuries, so it’s a good sign if any of these players are getting a lot of work.